Although he is now over 70, Franco-Greek businessman Panayotis Taloumis, known by his friends as "Pana", remains an authoritarian figure who keeps a tight hold on the reins of his group. A genuine self-made man who arrived in Madagascar as a teenager, he set up TAF, his first company, in the 1960s. The company specialised in food products and, in particular, in coffee. It prospered during the 1970s, enabling him to set up 10 or so other companies during the 1980s and 1990s in such varied sectors as distribution, bottling, automobiles, property and cocoa.

Taloumis is paternalist, old school employer, who has gained the support of his group's 1,500 employees by offering them benefits as he sees fit. He pays the hospital expenses of the least well-off among them, for example. In return, those who receive these benefits show him unfailing loyalty. Despite his austere demeanour, he has not always been rewarded for the trust he has placed in his senior executives, several of whom came from Greece to work for him. Some of his companies have fallen victim to fraud and it is perhaps to avoid making the same mistakes and, above all, keep his group under family control, that he recently put his two young sons, Ioannis and Vassilis, at the head of his companies in preparation for his succession. He relies heavily on them now, as well as on his wife, Chantal Guérin Taloumis, who is also one of the group's senior managers.

Although he is not a a great one for socialising, Taloumis has long had good connections in Madagascan high society and takes advantage of his position as honorary Greek and Cypriot consul to get maximum advantage from his contacts with the Madagascan authorities. In this way, he has made his way without mishap through the succession of political regimes which have held sway in Antananarivo in recent decades. In addition, he was wide-ranging connections, as well as some partners and friends, in the business sphere.